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2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography V8 review (video)

It’s regarded as the most luxurious and most complete slice of motoring money can buy. It’ll venture into the unknowns of the wilderness one day and the next it’ll tear up the tarmac with blistering performance. Introducing the 2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography Dynamic V8. It’s quite a lot to take in, literally and figuratively.

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography-Fuji white

Range Rover introduced the new model last year. Although it looks pretty similar to the previous edition – from a distance – every panel and almost everything underneath is completely new. There’s now a lot more aluminium in its construction which has helped shed a hefty 420kg from its waist on some models.

The design is now more in line with the rest of the Range Rover family, stemming from the Evoque, through to the Sport, and up to the grand daddy Range Rover. All of them take on the same design theme in their own distinct way, like a trio of brothers.

Engine choices haven’t changed much from the last of the previous generation. The Sport is available in two turbo-diesel V6 tunes (190kW and 215kW), a turbo-diesel V8 (250kW/700Nm), a supercharged V6 petrol (250kW), and this, the supercharged V8 monster. It belts out 375kW of power and 625Nm of torque. All come with an excellent ZF eight-speed auto transmission.

Prices? Well, it all depends. If you like options and customising, numbers can blow out past the $200k mark very quickly. The starting price for this crème de la crème Autobiography Dynamic V8 is $182,400. But, as you see it here with various tantalizing yet bank-busting enhancements, you’ll need to fork out $216,040 (excluding on-road costs).

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography Dynamic – THE SPECS

Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
Output: 375kW@6000-6500rpm / 625Nm@2500-5500rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive, electronic diff locks
Wheels: F and R: 22-inch, 275/40 (optional, 21in standard)
ANCAP: Five stars (scored 36.19 out of 37)

Kerb weight: 2310kg
Power-to-weight: 6.1:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 13.8L/100km
Economy during test: 15L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 105L/95 RON
Power efficiency: 27.1kW:L/100km
0-100km/h as tested: 5.0 seconds
Priced from: $182,400 ($216,040 as tested)

2014 Range Rover Sport-air suspension

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography Dynamic – THE PACKAGE

The headlines for the all-new model are impressive. It’s lighter weight, more efficient, more advanced, more aerodynamic, and faster than any of its predecessors. It’s also better equipped and more accommodating with a larger cabin. And let’s no forget, this is compared with the previous model, which wasn’t exactly a disappointing piece of transport.

Let’s dissect some of these improvements to find out how Land Rover has achieved it all. Starting with the weight. Up to 420kg has been lopped from the Range Rover’s underpinnings. That’s an incredible saving of up to 39 per cent. This specific variant here, without options, weighs 2310kg. The previous version of similar specification, with less equipment, weighed 2635kg.

How it is possible? Mainly via the development and implementation of an all-new platform which is now a monocoque (one piece) made from aluminium. The previous model used a semi-monocoque made mostly from steel.

Despite being lighter, the new chassis is more rigid and stiffer, with improved suspension and geometry providing a wider range of dynamic driving capabilities across all types of terrain, according to Land Rover. The steering system is also new, and the air suspension has been re-engineered for greater balance.

The suspension is adjustable in a number of ways from within the cabin. Drivers can select between a suite of all-terrain settings that not only lowers or raises the vehicle, but also changes the damper tune to suit. For example, you can put it into Dynamic mode and it’s set up for the road and vigorous cornering. The ride height can then be changed separately. It’s a very comprehensive system. Class-leading, in fact, offering 260mm of wheel travel at the front and 272mm at the back – no other vehicle on the market gets close to offering this much versatility.

The ‘access’ height setting is now 10mm lower too, so you can place its belly just 50mm from the ground when parked for an awesome low stance. It looks, and we’re sure you’ll agree, gob-smacking sitting in its lowest setting. This brings us to the design.

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography-max ground clearance2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography-access height

One way we know a car looks good is when it’s easy to photograph. Some vehicles aren’t very photogenic. This though, no matter what scene you put it in it looks lustful and luring. Especially in the metal. It owns wherever it goes. The stance, the sophistication, the attention to detail, it is simply one of the most proud and majestic vehicles on the market.

For this Dynamic version you’ll notice the black highlights sprinkled around the place (all modern ‘Dynamic’ Range Rovers are the same), such as the grille, side grilles, the blackened A-pillars and no-cost option black roof, and bonnet vents. This test vehicle is also optioned with 22-inch ‘Style 17’ alloy wheels ($2400) – which we think would look even better in black – and tinted windows ($900), with a big panoramic glass roof ($4000) completing the look. If you’re spending this much on a vehicle it would be hard to pass up such supplements. For the added cosmetic satisfaction they bring, they’re costly but totally worth it we think.

Being the Autobiography Dynamic means it comes with more luxury and equipment to play with than a first-class seat on an Emirates flight. Just to rattle off a few of the standout features, it comes with a 19-speaker stereo and 8.0-inch touch-screen interface, laminated windows for a whisper-quiet cabin, a refrigerated centre console box (on/off switchable), a full digital instrument display with changeable readouts, and some of the most comfortable seats you’ll ever come across in a production car. The seats are heated front and rear as well, with individual climate settings in the back.

There’s also a profusion of driving modes and off-road functions to assist with covering any type of terrain you might come across. The system is tied in with Active Dynamics dampers which constantly and automatically adjust to adapt to the conditions. Sensors are able to monitor body movements up to 500 times a second.

In terms of comfort and cabin ambiance, this is one of the most relaxing vehicles you can buy. The seats are placed perfectly in the cabin, not too high or too low, and the front ones can be adjusted in infinite ways. It might be an expensive vehicle but you immediately appreciate where the money is going when you open the door.

There’s so much attention to detail that we can’t mention it all. Take the doors, for instance, they extend right down to the bottom of the sill panel so when you slide your legs out they don’t scuff up against the body and gather any mud or dirt that might be stuck to the exterior. Also, if you have a look at the headlights you’ll notice they’re styled like the lens of a high-end camera. You could spend all day looking around the exterior and interior picking out interesting touches like these.

In the very back there is 784 litres of cargo capacity, along with under-floor storage, 12V power, and a fully electric horizontally splitting tailgate.

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography-dash

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography Dynamic – THE DRIVE

It has natural cornering talent, which is a surprising skill for a large SUV. You can tip it into a corner with pace behind you and it’ll behave like a sports car. It’s not quite as sharp as the BMW X5, for example, but then the X5 isn’t anywhere near as luxurious. Even still, it’s prepared for it and it revels in the opportunity to play.

All four wheels feel firmly planted from corner entry, through mid-corner bumps, and away from the apex. There is some minor body roll, even in the sporty Dynamic driver setting, but that’s to be expected in a vehicle of this stature.

Leaning on the power to escape from corners is great fun. It’s composed and confident. If you really push it it becomes a little more interesting. We can’t tell if it’s torque-steer or if it’s the transmission’s computer trying to calculate where to best distribute all that power and torque. There is a noticeable wrenching characteristic at full throttle as 625Nm try to turn back time.

Once you’ve exited the corner you can firmly depress the accelerator and it’ll just charge like a really pissed off bull, galloping hard and building what feels like unstoppable momentum. The forward g-force is enormous and the sensation of speed is grinningly addictive. And the sound? Clear, undistorted V8 bliss. The sound range goes from a refined snarl to an angry tiger growl. Have a listen in the video below.

Off the mark in a straight line there’s no hesitation. The front end perches up and then it all shoots off, propelling whatever weight it’s carrying without even noticing. It’s fast. We timed 0-100km/h in 5.0 seconds, which is about as quick as a Porsche Cayman S. The amount of forward thrust you experience from the cabin is unbelievable, partly due to the physics involved with shifting such a huge mass so rapidly.

Thanks to the weight savings the Sport is now more fuel efficient, not that interested punters are likely to care. The official average of this V8 version is 13.8L/100km. It’s an improvement from 14.9L/100km of previous generation with the same engine – it’s amazing what a little weight loss can do. During our week of testing – and enjoying liberal applications of 375kW – we averaged around 15L/100km.

When it comes time to stop the Brembo brakes do a superb job of scrubbing off speed. They are powerful and relentless. And they feel good. Pouncing on them hard also reveals something good about the chassis and weight balance. Some vehicles will squirm and shimmer during rapid deceleration. This stays controlled and arrow-straight, with the front end diving down and biting firmly.

Overall, this is a genuine one-size-fits-all motor vehicle that is able to perform wholly for any occasion. Unfortunately, we didn’t get time to go for a thorough off-road test drive, however, we have no doubt it is able to conquer common 4×4 tracks with no trouble. You just have to be careful not to bang up those 21- or in this case 22-inch alloy wheels.

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography-Australia

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography Dynamic – THE VIDEO

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography Dynamic – THE VERDICT

If you’re in the market for this type of vehicle, we can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t buy one. Apart from the mortgage-breaking price tag, it’s majestic, advanced, ‘gangster’, luxuriously comfortable, highly capable, and fast all in one. It’s a splendid evolution of its noble British heritage.

PROS:
– Still the pinnacle in SUV luxury
– V8 sound and performance
– A bit of a hooligan at heart
– Multipurpose versatility
– Lighter weight and more advanced than ever
– Attention to detail

CONS:
– Price
– Some torque-steer (we think)

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography-back

2014 Range Rover Sport Autobiography Dynamic – THE COMPETITORS

Mercedes-Benz GL 63 AMG
5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 – 410kW-760Nm – 12.3L/100km – 2580kg – from $217,400

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.